The Neurobiology of Cognition in Schizophrenia

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Currently, no drugs exist that effectively treat cognition in people with schizophrenia. What is known about the neurobiology of cognition in schizophrenia is derived from the animal literature; it is inadequate and superficial. Despite this lack, pharmacologic research into potential molecular targets has uncovered several viable possibilities from animal studies. A subcommittee of the Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) program investigated the range of putative molecular targets for treating cognition. Those targets that show promise for pharmacologic focus include the dopamine receptors (especially D1) in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the serotonin receptors in the PFC and anterior cingulate cortex, the glutamatergic excitatory synapse, the acetylcholine nicotinic receptors in the hippocampus, the acetylcholine muscarinic receptors, and the brain γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system. Once developed and tested, the effective compounds will be valuable for the treatment of the symptom domains of cognitive dysfunction and negative symptoms.

J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67(suppl 9):9-13